Lightning finally snaps its losing streak

by Gary Shelton on March 31, 2018 · 2 comments

in general

Stamkos used his fists to lead the Lightning./CARMEN MANDATO

Stamkos used his fists to lead the Lightning./CARMEN MANDATO

Saturday, 2 a.m.

The Tampa Bay Lightning, finally, are winners again.

The Bolts, who have been scuffling some lately, snapped a three-game losing streak with a 7-2 victory over what's-left-of-the-New-York-Rangers Friday night. The Bolts temporarily moved back into first place in the Atlantic Division, one point ahead of the Boston Bruins, who have two games in hand.

It was a bit of an odd night, with Cedric Paquette scoring two goals and Steven Stamkos missing 17 minutes because of a fight.

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Paquette scored two goals for the Lightning./CARMEN MANDATO

Paquette scored two goals for the Lightning./CARMEN MANDATO

“Second time that’s happened," said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. "It was one of those things where it looked like somebody kind of took a liberty at Kuch. Stammer saw it and did what he had to do to stick up for his teammates. It’s the reason he’s got a C on his jersey. It was tough to lose him for 17 minutes but as you said, it went miles. He wasn’t on the ice, but what he did lifted our team.”

Once again, however, neither Stamkos nor Nikita Kucherov scored a goal for the Bolts. Stamkos has not scored in 11 games, and he's scored in only two games of the last 16.

Miller scored a goal for the Lightning./CARMEN MANDATO

Miller scored a goal for the Lightning./CARMEN MANDATO

“I wouldn’t classify myself as a fighter," Stamkos said. "Stuff’s happened in the game a couple times this year. I thought Kuch got clipped and just responding. That’s pretty much it, just stick up for yourself, stick up for your teammates.”

For the Bolts, it was a return to New York for Ryan McDonagh and, Dan Girardi and J.T. Miller, who both scored goals.

“It was an emotional game for a ton of reasons," Cooper said. "One, we just came off an emotional game 24 hours earlier which we were on the wrong side of. And then you’ve got to travel and the back to back. Then you go through, it was weird because it was a long pregame, and that was emotional

Point scored his 29th goal./CARMEN MANDATO

Point scored his 29th goal./CARMEN MANDATO

just with the award ceremony and for our guys. It was a tough first for us just to get our legs back. But I like the way we responded in the second and the third, and the guys did what they had to do."

Said Miller: “It was cool. It was definitely kind of emotional before the game there. You know it’s coming and you try to stay focused on the task at hand. But it was a pretty cool reception they had for us three and just fortunate we were able to come here and get two points.”

The Bolts scored on two goals from Cedric Paquette and one each from Alex Killorn, J.T. Miller, Point and Dan Girardi.

Killornn scored his 15th goal./CARMEN MANDATO

Killorn scored his 15th goal./CARMEN MANDATO

Stamkos was impressed by Paquette's play.

“We’ve seen what he can do in the playoff runs," Stamkos said. "Very physical guy, a guy who’s going to do everything right. And he’s got the offensive skill set where he can chip in with goals and nice plays. I remember our Stanley Cup run, he was great. It’s been a tough year in terms of him having to sit out and stay mentally prepared, so I thought he did a great job and got rewarded tonight.”

Said Cooper: “It’s been a tough spot for him because he’s been out a few of these games. But these guys want to play in the playoffs, a couple injuries happen all of a sudden the door’s open and you’ve got to take advantage of it. And that’s what he’s doing. I thought, he didn’t play a ton of minutes in last night’s game but I thought they were really effective. I thought they were arguably our best line tonight. They just kept it simple, went to the net and I was hoping at the end there maybe he could have got the hat trick, but he earned his ice time tonight and I am really happy for him.”

The Bolts return home Sunday to face the Nashville Predators. The puck drops at 6 p.m. Tampa Bay then plays a crucial game against Boston on Tuesday.



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